Why this Site?

  • Our Mission:
  • We exist to shine the light of scrutiny into the dark crevices of Wikipedia and its related projects; to examine the corruption there, along with its structural flaws; and to inoculate the unsuspecting public against the torrent of misinformation, defamation, and general nonsense that issues forth from one of the world’s most frequently visited websites, the “encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”
  • How you can participate:
  •  Visit the Wikipediocracy Forum, a candid exchange of views between Wikipedia editors, administrators, critics, proponents, and the general public.
  • 'Like' our Wikipediocracy page on Facebook.
  •  Follow Wikipediocracy on Twitter!

Press Releases

  • Please click here for recent Wikipediocracy press releases.

The Deaf Leading the Blind — the tale of Jimmy Wales’ vanishing talk page posts

by Wer900

Jimmy Wales is well-known for having opened his user talk page to general discussion of Wikipedia/Wikimedia issues, creating the impression that he is genuinely interested in fueling productive and civil debate on the nature of the encyclopedia. After deeper analysis of the talk page’s history, though, it becomes clear that there is something more at work than a desire for constructive discussion. On numerous occasions, the god-king, constitutional monarch, and sole founder of Wikipedia has suppressed discussion about topics uncomfortable to him, including the various misdeeds of the Board of Trustees and chapters of the Wikimedia Foundation, and the editing community at large, not to mention those of Wales himself.

Take this talk-page removal from April 27, 2013. Although he ostensibly removed the message in order to “rm trollimg”, the message contained a link to a particularly damning article in the Daily Dot regarding his non-payment of the 2012 “Wikipedian of the Year” award, whose US$5000 prize was to be extracted from his own personal funds. The next day, Wales questioned whether the author of the Daily Dot piece was a “real journalist”, and other users responded to his insinuation. Quite predictably, Wales deleted what was apparently a “useless trolling discussion”. A related May discussion, centering on “Wikipedian of the Year” as well as various other “Jimbo awards” coming from Wales’ own purse (and, crucially, his avoidance of scrutiny on such contentious matters), was also deleted, with the edit summary of “rm trolling”—a byword for the systematic removal of content unpleasant to Wales and other corrupt players on Wikipedia.

Shazam!

Questions about the (in)actions of the Wikimedia Foundation, its affiliated bodies, and officials (Wales included) are not the only ones that elicit the standard “delete” response. When his article-space contributions were questioned, Jimmy Wales decided to “– rm uninformed insults posted for no apparent reason”, for no apparent reason. A further question by Fram on the same subject was also summarily deleted, with the edit summary asking Fram (and, by extension, anyone opposing the sole founder) to “go away.” Another Fram post, dealing specifically with Wales’ careless and low-quality work on the Frank Scalice article, was deleted without any edit summary.

Since the “Wikipedian of the Year” debacle, Jimmy Wales has developed more and more sophisticated methods for avoiding scrutiny, often in ways that are less likely to raise alarm bells on his deletions of uncomfortable comments. At times he may, as with this mention of Wales’s connections to the Kazakh regime, excise uncomfortable material while adding his own comments, giving the false appearance in the page history of a benign edit with a net positive contribution of bytes. At other times, he may feel the need to “[hat] useless drama”, as he did in a discussion on the Commons debacle that was merely about the drama associated with that event, and not particularly dramatic in and of itself. Serving Wikipedia’s sole founder, some of His Majesty’s subjects have also taken up Wales’s noble cause, suppressing a legitimate question on Silver seren‘s views on biographies of living persons. And of course, there’s always the tried-and-true “rm trolling”.

To be fair, Jimmy Wales is, as a Wikipedia user, completely within his rights to maintain his talk page to his liking. However, his suppression of any criticism is unbecoming to the credibility of any regular Wikipedia contributor, let alone the one anointed as god-king. Meanwhile, the methods of suppression are becoming increasingly covert—Wales will be taking a “major wikibreak from July 1 to July 21,” during which he expects to “essentially close his talk page” so that he can “work on some new ideas.” The creation of a committee to produce a full report on the status of the investigation into the preliminary investigative stage of the production of a report on the health of Wikipedia and its movement has been considered, and should be available shortly, pending an analysis on how the investigation into said investigation will affect Wikipedia process.

Editor’s note: this article only addresses a tiny sampling of the many interesting deletions that Jimmy has made on his talk page. There may be more to be said on this topic.

Image credit — Flickr/Blmurch, licensed under Creative Commons attribution 2.0 generic

 

7 comments to The Deaf Leading the Blind — the tale of Jimmy Wales’ vanishing talk page posts

  • ericbarbour

    “The creation of a committee to produce a full report on the status of the investigation into the preliminary investigative stage of the production of a report on the health of Wikipedia and its movement has been considered, and should be available shortly, pending an analysis on how the investigation into said investigation will affect Wikipedia process.”

    At last, someone has summarized the Jimbo Way perfectly!

  • Something I find amusing is Jimmy Wales’ propensity to tell the press that most Wikipedia problems are solved by “posting your concerns to the Talk page”, and a supposed team “dedicated to accuracy” will come along to act “with transparency” to “make sure we get it right”. But, when you post concerns about Jimmy Wales, directly to Jimmy Wales’ talk page… POOF! They disappear — dismissed as “vandalism” or “trolling”. Such a juvenile approach to criticism, to plug one’s ears and say “I can’t hear you!”

  • Wer900

    Eric, I have not summarized the Jimbo Way perfectly. We need to add that the investigation into all of this will begin when Jimbo has completed the first of his many excursions to Kazakhstan.

  • Whatever

    Why should his talk page be an open forum for whatever agenda-driven screed somebody wants to post? Issues with the Foundation? Bring them to the Foundation. Issues with BLP policy? BLP noticeboard. His talk page is just some dude’s talk page and treating it like some free speech commons that is being squelched only serves to perpetuate the stupid Cult of Jimbo that has grown up around him.

    • Is Jimbo’s talk page an appropriate forum to ask Jimbo about why he hasn’t paid a Wikipedian of the Year award that he conceived and funded? Is it an appropriate forum to ask Jimbo about his ties to Tony Blair and the Kazakhstan regime? I think so.

      • Whatever

        Ask, sure. Don’t expect him to reply and don’t treat it as some sort of ridiculous free speech issue when he doesn’t answer. The Jehovah’s Witnesses can come to my door, but I’m not squelching their free speech if I don’t answer.

        • Not_Jehovah

          “Ask, sure. Don’t expect him to reply and don’t treat it as some sort of ridiculous free speech issue when he doesn’t answer. The Jehovah’s Witnesses can come to my door, but I’m not squelching their free speech if I don’t answer.”

          The difference is that you (hopefully) didn’t previously meet with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, agree to fund them annual to the tune of $5000/year, invite them to return later to pick up the money, and then refuse to follow-through – or even acknowledge their legitimate outrage.

          Or did you?